SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – In his first three at-bats Saturday, Nick Meyer hit three long fly balls to left-center field. All were caught.
In his final at-bat, with a 14-game hitting streak on the line, the junior catcher went the other way, slicing a two-run double down the right-field line with two outs in the eighth inning to lift Cal Poly to a 4-2 victory over Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara inside Baggett Stadium.
Cal Poly improved to 26-27 for the season with the come-from-behind victory, its eighth in a row against the Gauchos, and elevated its Big West Conference record to 11-9, tied for third place with UC Irvine and a half-game out of second place, occupied by CSUN (13-10).
Cal State Fullerton (15-5) clinched at least a tie for the Big West title with a 3-0 victory over CSUN on Saturday.
UCSB fell to 24-26-1 and 8-12.
Trailing 1-0, Cal Poly scored a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by shortstop Dylan Doherty through the right side of the Gaucho infield.
UCSB regained the lead with a run in the sixth on a run-scoring double by Drew Williams and it remained 2-1 until the bottom of the eighth.
Alex McKenna, who saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end, drew a walk to ignite the rally. After a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Marinconz moved McKenna to second, Tate Samuelson reached base on a fielding error, putting runners at first and third with one out.
Elijah Skipps flied out to shallow left field for the second out, the runners holding, and Meyer came to the plate.
Earlier, Mustang head coach Larry Lee told Meyer after his third fly ball to left-center field, "Hey, you will get an opportunity to win the game late and, sure enough that's what happened. Put the past behind you because the only option is what is ahead of you."
Meyer worked the count to 3-2 against Gaucho southpaw Josh Candau before sending a fly ball down the right-field line that landed fair by about two inches, scoring both McKenna and Samuelson. Meyer is now hitting .457 against left-handers and .348 with runners in scoring position this season.
Bradlee Beeslee followed with a single through the left side of the Gaucho infield for an insurance run.
Freshman right-hander Taylor Dollard (3-0) (pictured at left), who earned a save in Friday's 5-3 triumph, retired UCSB in order in the ninth Saturday with two fly balls to the outfield and a game-ending strikeout.
Mustang starter Darren Nelson tossed 6 2/3 solid innings in the no-decision, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Dollard secured the final seven outs for the win, giving up one hit and one walk with one strikeout.
Chris Lincoln also pitched well for the Gauchos, limiting Cal Poly to two runs (one earned) and five hits over seven innings with one walk and four strikeouts. He also was not involved in the decision. Candau (2-1) suffered the loss, giving up the final two runs of the game. All three Mustang runs in the eighth were unearned.
Despite two wins in the series, Cal Poly was outhit for the second straight game. The Mustangs' seven hits included two singles each by Beesley and Josh George (pictured above at right) plus the double by Meyer.
UCSB collected eight hits, led by Williams with a single and double. Tommy Jew homered to left field in the fourth inning, his fifth of the year.
Final game of the series and Cal Poly's last home game of the 2018 season will be played Sunday at 1 o'clock. Michael Clark (3-6, 6.21 ERA) of the Mustangs will face Gaucho Chris Clements (1-1, 4.24 ERA) in a matchup of junior right-handers.
Six Mustang seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony. They are pitchers Trent Shelton, Austin Dondanville and Kyle Smith, first baseman/designated hitter Elijah Skipps and outfielders Josh George and Colby Barrick.
Photos courtesy of Lauren Pluim